The Best Books On How Europe Waged Peace After Napoleon

Beatrice de Graaf Author Of Fighting Terror After Napoleon: How Europe Became Secure After 1815
By Beatrice de Graaf

The Books I Picked & Why

Waverley

By Sir Walter Scott

Waverley

Why this book?

To understand the trauma caused by the Napoleonic Wars, and the craving of people in France, Europe and elsewhere to return to the ‘normal pace of times’ as the Austrian Statesman Clemens von Metternich had it, Walter Scott’s ‘Waverley’ is the best vehicle to convey ourselves into the mindset of the contemporary Europeans. Europe had to curb the ‘evil passions’ and had to ‘come to its senses’. Just as Waverley’s young hero Edward does by letting go of his romantic love for the rebellious Flora and returning in the arms of his very English, quiet and harmonious fiancée, Rose. Scott’s Waverley came out in 1814, was a bestselling success in Britain and on the European continent. The protagonists of my book, Fighting terror, read it. And it still is a great read for us today, for rainy days.


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The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History

By Alexander Mikaberidze

The Napoleonic Wars: A Global History

Why this book?

Mikaberidze’s book gives the first global, comprehensive account of just how terrible and transformational the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars were. There are abundant books on how the wars were waged in Europe, or in the Americas. Yet Mikaberidze reveals the truly massive scale of these military events, with all their social, economic, cultural consequences, in almost every corner of the world. We knew already that the Napoleonic Wars belonged in the category of Total War, but Mikaberidze really brings that notion to life. He also, in his last chapter, shows how indeed the trauma of the war informed the new post-war settlement and collective security experiments.


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Mrs. Adams in Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon

By Michael O'Brien

Mrs. Adams in Winter: A Journey in the Last Days of Napoleon

Why this book?

I already mentioned this gripping account of a 40-days trip of a lonely lady in a solitary carriage, hobbling from St. Petersburg, via Riga, Tilsit to Paris above. Everyone interested in the Napoleonic Wars, should also feel obliged to read her account, how she witnessed ‘houses half burnt’, a war ‘shedding its gloom around all the objects, announcing devastation and despair’. And how happy she was when being helped by allied soldiers, and upon reaching her destination safe and sound (with her little boy) in Paris, where the allied leaders were setting up their headquarters.


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The Congress of Vienna: Power and Politics After Napoleon

By Brian E. Vick

The Congress of Vienna: Power and Politics After Napoleon

Why this book?

It was not just the generals and heads of states that convened in Vienna to make the world safe after Napoleon. Brian Vick excavated all kinds of archival and material evidence to show how artists, composers, entrepreneurs, writers, fashion agents and other unofficial opinion-shapers worked to turn the Congress of Vienna into a success, and helped to create a new international system in Europe. Vick even lists the Congress’s items of merchandise, memorabilia (be it snuffboxes or teacups adorned with royal portraits) that were sold enthusiastically in the narrow streets around the Hofburg and elsewhere in the capitals throughout Europe. Waging peace was as much a political, as a consumerist affair.


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Our Friends the Enemies: The Occupation of France After Napoleon

By Christine Haynes

Our Friends the Enemies: The Occupation of France After Napoleon

Why this book?

Where my book, Fighting Terror, zooms in on the Allied Council, and its encompassing security culture, Christine Haynes’ rich and detailed book reconstructs the interactions between occupying soldiers and the occupied in Paris and across the French countryside. She meticulously details how these interactions involved violence, but also promoted cultural exchange (vernacular, songs, dances, fashion, food) and reconciliation between the French and their former enemies. Her book reads as a narrative on how to transform former enemies into allies, a unique blueprint for fraternizing-through-occupying on the ground.


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